Quotas no way forward, lawyers say

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A UK survey has found that the majority of legal professionals don’t think that quotas are an effective way to ensure gender equality.

Forty-seven per cent of respondents to a survey by legal recruiter Laurence Simons said they believed quotas were ineffective.   Nineteen per cent of respondents said that they believe quotas are effective, but shouldn’t be used because they are patronising, anti-meritocratic and discriminatory.

Lee-May Saw, president of the Women Lawyers’ Association NSW, said that despite many lawyers believing quotas to be ineffective, in Australia, evidence suggests that quotas do work in triggering cultural change.

“Quotas and targets are positive to set goals, measure progress, and bring about the kind of transparency required to hold organisations to account on measures important to ensure cultural change, ” she told Australasian Lawyer.

“While many lawyers may continue to believe that quotas are not effective, evidence of use of quotas suggests that they are an effective way to change norms and culture.”

According to a report by the Solicitors Journal, just 42% of women surveyed only want to see quotas for ensuring a level of female partnership.  Only 16% of men agreed.

“There needs to be education and engagement prior to and during the implementation stages for quotas and targets,” Saw said.

“Quotas and targets in respect of aspects of diversity other than gender can also highlight areas where gender diversity itself can be improved.”
 
 

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